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Supression of Self is Depression of Spirit (Michelle)

Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear teenage self, I am a social worker in a relationship with a woman. If I knew I could still have been a mom and have my spirituality as a teen my life would have looked a bit different. I don't have regrets, but I needed to know God would not forsake me and I could still be a mother to a child/children. As a result of my journey I was able to learn and be awakened by freeing myself to live with integrity in EVERY aspect of my life. Hiding who we are creates a menagerie of deceptions to others and to ourselves. Those walls take years to break down. Time wasted instead of living.

 

Being of color and having a challenging childhood made it difficult for me to follow my true desires. I instead friended the women I had crushes on and just enjoyed watching them. I admired them in EVERY way. It wasn't just for lust, it was a connection and pulling towards them I could never explain. I came out when I was 24 and still had a long way to go.

 

If I knew I could be myself and that HELL was living someone else's truth, I'd would have been happier in life much sooner.

 

My advice is to always be who you are. Your sexuality doesn't create your destiny, living your truth in FULL does.. Suppression of self is depression of the spirit.

Laying Tracks For Future Trains (Kate)

Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear Kate,

So, you are fourteen, going to Catholic Central, and just came out. Congratulations, that was an awkward conversation with your parents. The embarrassment that you are feeling right now; let go of it. You have nothing to be embarrassed about. You are perfect and beautiful just the way you are.

What else? Yeah, don't drop out, don't run away. Stop eating peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches for lunch every day. I swear, you are breeding a sugar worm. Believe me, nineteen years latter, and we are still feeding that worm!

You know how Dad is forcing us to get confirmed? Just do it. You won't go to hell, I promise!

Oh, and remember that girl, Georgie I think it was? The one who, during Algebra class, when Coach yelled at you, got up out of her seat, crossed the room in utter silence as the entire class stared, bent and kissed your forehead? Yeah! Go get her #!!! Call her!

Also, don't drop out of Catholic Central and enroll in Public School. Kids are just as mean there and you will wind up dropping out of that school too. PS, they are the same kids who now 'like' every fart you make on FB and constantly remind you that your life seems so amazing!

What I'm saying is, don't run. Make friends. Discover the Michigan Womyns Music Fest (bring Georgie, she probably has a car)! You live in Michigan for Gods sake, don't wait eighteen years to discover it!

By the way, there are more gay people than you think. Yes, all around. You are so weird and different only because you are way ahead of your time, and more brave than most.

You will continue to be weird and brave, don't run in search of more like you, you will only get dizzy. Stay and make friends right where you are. People become more and more alike, the more you get to know them. We are not all so different.

Don't hide all the time. It will only make you become a lonely, isolated person. You know how you like to go up on the roof and smoke cig's during Friday Mass? Well, eighteen years latter and you still have cravings and are trying to learn Spanish via podcast!

Its 1995 and what is a podcast you ask? Never mind that. The point is that Mass was in Latin, you could of learned something! Instead of standing in pigeon poop, huffing camels, by now, 'we' could be a bilingual non smoker!

My dear young self, it appears there is much I would of liked to have changed. Unfortunately who knows what or who I would be today if it weren't for you, messing things up, making discoveries the hard way, and simply going about life as a teenager. So, thank you. Thank you for being you and for going through all of it.

The teen years are like no other. They are terrifyingly beautiful. Something happens to a person during this time. A formation of the adult to come. So handle yourself with care my love. The emotions you are feeling so deeply, they will seem trivial in a few years, but still I warn you, handle them now with great care, because they are laying the tracks for the future trains of your life.


Stop and Breathe (Phoebe)

Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear 14 year old me,

 

I know that 1994 has been a hard year, especially with all the thinking you have been doing as to your sexual orientation. But I also know the relief you felt when you decided to accept and embrace it despite the possibilities of rejection by family and friends. But the road isn’t over, it’s only just beginning.

 

Don’t be scared to tell your parents, they may not react as accepting as you would hope but they will accept you. I know you are more scared to tell your mom than you are dad but she will be the first to fully accept you and your father will soon follow.

 

If you still follow your plan to join the military be prepared, you won’t be able to shout out loud "I’m here, I’m queer, get used to it!" like you do now, you must hold your tongue on who you are and maintain professionalism. I know it’s not fair but it will be the price you pay for following your dreams. You will not be able to discuss your family and personal life like your co-workers, you will not have your squadron calling your spouse to make sure they are doing ok while you are deployed, if you have children you will not be able to add them to your medical coverage or use base services like day care or the elementary school, you will not be able to leave work if something happens to them or in an emergency. Yes most seem like little things now, but they will take their toll. They will make you angry at times and constantly question why your life and love is treated in such a manner. You will decide to answer honestly if someone ever asks you (even though you know what can happen) or to deny, I implore you to never deny who you. But you will be lucky, you will work with amazing people who will accept you, who won’t ask but know. You will have supervisors who do call your spouse and who know your family. You will be more fortunate than so many others in this aspect so please cherish it and be grateful.

 

There is one adverse effect that will come from your military ventures, you will not be as active in creating change in the LGBTQ community as you will become throughout your high school years. but don’t worry you will find your way back, you will be older then yes but the experiences that you will have had will benefit those you will meet (all of whom will be younger than you) and yourself.

 

I wish I could tell you that you will find the mythical "one" that we all so often hear about. That you will fall in love and that’s it complete and utter love life perfection, but unfortunately I can’t tell you that because it doesn’t work that way. You will experience hurt, some far greater than others. No matter how badly injured your little heart is always try to forgive; I know its hard trust me I do, But holding onto that hurt and whatever anger may come with it will only hurt you not the one who may have caused this pain and leave you guarded and untrusting on many levels. You will love so very completely at least once, giving your heart and soul unconditionally, but it will not be easy and unfortunately it will be the most painful hurt you have experienced. But you will survive, it won’t be easy but you won’t shut down, you will keep going and healing but most importantly you will learn from it.

 

The most important things that I can tell you right now is please try and always be true to yourself, be your true self. Don’t let a lover reshape you or try to change who you are because they don’t like it, and don’t let them ridicule you or put you down. If they can’t accept or don’t like who you are then they do not deserve you! Don’t let anyone control or abuse you, or call your kindness weakness. You are NOT weak!

 

The second thing is that you do not have to label yourself! You do not have to be a butch women or a femme. You do not have to fall into the categories just to make straight people comfortable NOR do you have to fall into categories to make other LGBTQ people comfortable. You do not have to call yourself a lesbian or gay or anything else other than ‘me’.

There is so much more you will experience but maybe it’s not fair to tell you everything that is to come, you still have to make decisions and choices on your own. But stop and think and maybe reconsider a few things or people you let in along the way.

 

So stop, breathe and let’s see what you get into now.

~me

Be Careful and Responsible

Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I am a college professor who has known she was gay since the age of 10. I saw a story about "gay underground America in San Francisco" or something like that in Life Magazine in 1962 when I was 10. I innocently told my mother that I was going to be one of these people when I grew up. She told me that was fine and to talk to her about it in a couple of years. At age 13, when I kissed my best friend, I talked to her.

 

She was so accepting and told me a couple of things. First, both my parents always told me to explore my feelings and be honest with people. second, they always stressed to me and my siblings about being careful with sex because it always has outcomes. Third, they taught me that love is good and that if you feel love it is ok as long as you are honest and careful. Of course, it helped that my parents were health and PE teachers, had lots of gay friends, and knew exactly how to deal with young people!

 

I could not have had a better upbringing because I was loved and accepted for who and what I was as long as I was responsible, honest, careful. I was taught in the most loving of ways that sexuality does not define a person.

 

My advice to a young gay person would be to find somebody with whom you can be honest. Explore your sexuality but be careful and responsible and try not to hurt people.

Be patient with yourself and seek out the company of peers and older folk who can be patient with you. Everything gets easier as you get older. In the meantime, keep busy and find your passions. Being able to express your sexuality is important but it is not everything. Use your brain, be physical, find your friends, get mentors who understand you, be loving and kind, and be patient with those who do not understand you if they are giving you food and shelter. Most times life is hard for everyone.

Kiss More Girls (Erin)

Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

dear erin,

 

remember when you were 11 and your mom asked you if you were a lesbian and you said "i m not sure." you should have said "welp, kind of!" I know you were never super stressed about "not being straight" and never closeted for a variety of reasons, but if i were to give you a piece of advice it would be this, you dont need to be shy about sex or love with anyone. in the future, a lot of your relationships with people will be fluid, and it's awesome. plus, right now you are super hot, who wouldn't want to hold your hand/kiss your face/do it with you. and not to boss you around, but dont bind your chest with ace bandages anymore, that shit is not good for you. i know you won't be into being femme for almost 10 years, so embrace your masculinity in ways that won't constrict your breathing and cause you muscle aches. also, i know you dont feel like you are a girl now, and you never really will, but i know you will feel way okay with it in a couple of years. no one who loves you will care if you refer to yourself as a boy, or a dude. plus you will get really good at putting on make up, and you can wear shorts under all your dresses, and you will feel happy because you will know that you are having fun fooling people. mostly i want you to know you will grow up to be someone you are proud of. you work to help women (and men and folks in general) who have been sexually assaulted or experienced intimate partner violence, you will retain your sense of humor, you will continue to be young at heart and love people freely. you love, have loved and will love some amazing women/men/people and i am so proud that you gave yourself the opportunity to do so.

 

xoxo

future erin

 

ps. seriously, try kissing more girls in senior year, i promise positive results.

Remember Who You Are (Nadia)

Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear Nadia,

You definitely made some idiotic choices along the way. Don't take forever to follow your dreams because of what other people may think. Currently you are a sergeant in the Marine Corps getting ready to endeavor marriage with the most beautiful woman in the world. Living it up in Hawaii at that, I wouldn't believe it if i was you too. You took forever to join the military because of don't ask don't tell. The government will eventually let you have the freedom to love who you want to love. You missed out on a great opportunity to have a successful career at a young age because you just wanted to be rebel and not give a damn about anything or anyone. It also worked out in a way because you eventually found out who you were, with that you found your fiance too. Just because one girl broke your heart doesn't mean they all will. Straight girls will always be straight girls, you can't change them. So stop trying!! Be careful with your experimenting because you tend to lose friends when they want to become serious and you don't. It might be just exploring to you, but it means something deeper to them. Cherish the friends that you have because a lot of them will be there for you. Especially when you go through it with your mother. She is going to be your worst enemy, don't let her bring you down or get in your way of your dreams. You were always right about her. She will show her true colors when you have finally succeeded. If I knew then what I know now I would've focused on school and not girlfriends. There is more to life than Myspace and AOL. You don't have to be the token gay girl at school. Life definitely moved on and you need to be prepared for that. Stay away from the parties because it is taking its toll on your body now. It really isn't that cool to do drugs and you would be a lot farther in life. I kinda wish I would've joined the Marine Corps when I was 18. Your pint up aggression would've taken you far. It's doing wonders for me right now. Just remember who you are deep down inside. Nobody can change that, not even you.

The Older Wiser You (Anonymous)

Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear Me,

 

You don't have to have sex with all those dudes. Make sure you always use protection. You'll feel a lot better about yourself, though I'm not sure you'll ever lose the fear that you might be carrying a child to a man you've only know for one night. Stop doing that shit. It's too stressful and you don't really like it. Do you?

 

You will never worry about that with a woman. She cannot get your pregnant, so have fun. Just remember . . . You will learn how to be an asshole from many, many men. They are not all bad. Some of you best friends are men. Gender roles don't have to be confusing when you do what comes naturally. Further, you will learn how to be a gentlewoman. When you fall in love, treat her like you'd want to be treated. For your lady, do the most. Buy flowers. Open doors. And if she loves you back, she will do the same for you, making you feel beautiful and loved. There's no imbalance in requited love.

 

I'd love to tell you to turn down the gay. It might help with your future job search, but deep down inside, that doesn't feel right. There has to be room for all of us. That's why coming out is so important. As long as we are invisible, no one ever has to act like we exist. They don't have to worry about our interests, our “lifestyle” or the way we love, if we choose to be invisible. You are worthy of love, a successful career, and the patience from yourself and your partner, and a world where you matter.

 

That job you'll have after grad school . . . Stay there for no more than three years. Get out and never look back. You know what you want to do and what makes you feel good. It won't be easy, but maybe I'll write you again and give you some advice about your 30s. Until then, keep it movin and #keepitgangsta. This pound sign will make a lot more sense in 2013. Love,

Older Wiser You


Don't Take Yourself too Seriously (Cara)

Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (0)

 Dear Cara,

 

I know that High School was a time of strong emotions and fear. All of your feelings are valid and it's ok to feel them. Just remember that feelings are like weather, and they will come and go. What matters most is that you be true to who you are, think about what YOU want and go for it. I know that sometimes it's hard to get past what everyone else wants and expects from you, but you are on this Earth to live for yourself. So do it! Do what you need to do for you. Don't apologize for being yourself and reach for whatever dreams you hope to come true. Trust that the world is open to you as much as you are open to it. Let yourself try things. Don't forget to laugh, a lot, and don't take yourself too seriously. As far as we know, you only get one life, so live it. Be safe and be good to yourself first.

 

Love you,

Cara at 32


Things Will Be Okay (Sara)

Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (0)

 

Dear 18-year-old Sarah,

 

Hi. This is 28-year-old Sarah. I know you're super busy right now moving to Ohio and starting college, but I need to give you a heads up about a few things that may make the next couple of years go much smoother for you. Although you haven't quite put two and two together yet about your sexuality, things are going to start hitting the fan here real soon. So before they do, keep the following in mind:

 

• No, I don't care what you read in that Cosmo magazine in high school, straight girls DO NOT have crushes on other girls like you have crushes. A straight girl girl-crush is different than a head-over-heels-can't-stop-thinking-about-her crush. Forget that article now; it's just going to continue to confuse you.

•Go to your college’s LGBT group. You go once freshman year, and get discouraged by the lack of cute girls and never go back. FAIL. GO AGAIN. You’re going to need the support and it was not easy realizing after college you need a LGBT group. It’s harder to find support like that in the real world. You know in your gut it would help you to be there… JUST GO AND KEEP GOING. You’ll thank me when you don’t spend years thinking you’re weird.

• There is such a thing as a femme. I know labels are stupid, but at this time in your life your head is full of stereotypes you’re assuming are facts. Let me save you the confusion and tell you now they’re all wrong. You can keep wearing dresses, keep your hair long, and wear high heels. Doing these things does not make you straight, and you don’t have to stop doing these things if you’re gay.

• You can have a family and be a mom if you’re gay. This is important to know now 18-year-old Sarah, but I’m going need you to remind 22-year-old Sarah of this too. Realizing you’re gay does not mean you have to kiss your future goodbye. You CAN get married, have a kid, and have the life you dream of having.

• Today, year 2014 this is, Mom and Dad are fine with having a gay daughter. But you have to remember, it’s a process for them too: be patient and go easy on them.

 

So I think that’s it in a nutshell, Sarah. Just realize that I’m writing to you now as a happily engaged, out-of-the-closet lesbian. I have that cute apartment you always wanted, and a cute fiancé who lives there too. Enjoy college, and when you start figuring things out, just CALM DOWN. It’s going to be ok!

 

 

In conclusion…

If I only knew then that the feelings I was having was not just a “girl-crush”. Most confusing phrase ever to a not-yet-figured-it-out lesbian.

 

If I only knew then the importance of having access to and going to a LGBT group. It would have been life changing to talk to people who have gone through what I was going through and have their support. Geez, the internal turmoil that might have saved!

 

If I only knew then that what I thought I “knew” about lesbians were stereotypes. I had absolutely no idea that a lesbian could be girly. It took me years, and I mean YEARS to realize that just because I was feminine doesn’t mean I’m straight. I was so sure that lesbians feel uncomfortable in dresses, etc., which meant there was no way I would be gay. Oh man, breaking down that stereotype for myself was a long and confusing experience.

 

If I only knew then that I could be gay and have a future. Maybe I should merge the last statement together with this one: If I only knew of any lesbian role models. I genuinely had no idea that I could have a family, wear a pretty wedding dress, be successful, have kids and continue to be who I am if I was gay. If I had only KNOWN of any lesbians who were my age and/or 10, 20, 30 years older, I can’t even imagine the impact that would have had on my life. Seeing feminine, successful lesbians with families when I had been 18 or so would have totally changed the following five years of my life.

 

If I only knew then that things would be ok. My parents, my sister and my life would all be ok. Having reassurance that that process wasn’t going to last forever, and I just needed to be patient and calm down, would have been invaluable!


Worry Less (Lindie)

Posted by Alyssa.fenix on July 8, 2014 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

 

A letter to me…

 

Worry less about what other people think about you, about your test scores, and about tomorrow. Everything has a way of working out. People who belong in your life will find a way in and will stay there. Take time to find out who you are, what matters to you, who matters to you, and pursue that.

 

I am 31 years old now, and realized that I was “different” in terms of my sexuality when I was about 17 years old. I was terrified to tell people, and most everyone loved me and embraced me immediately. Some took a longer time to accept me, but I stood my ground, continued to be who I wanted to be, and they came around in their own time. Not everyone in my life accepts me the way I want them to, but I’ve learned to accept them and respect them the same way I expect them to do that for me.

 

Growing up, I worried a lot about pleasing people, being who other people wanted me to be, etc. I worried a lot about finding a career that suited me, starting a family, and how my life would “turn out.” It has all worked out…much differently than I expected…but better than I ever anticipated.

Trust that life will give you what you’re meant to handle; that life will present you with opportunities that you’re supposed to have; and be you!


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